June 18, 2008
Recent reports indicate that only about a third of the children and their mothers have returned to the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. Others are living in homes around San Angelo. This raises some interesting questions. Are many of the women keeping their children away from the ranch? Are they unwilling to return to an environment many describe as repressive to women and children? If they stay away, how will they survive? Most FLDS women are poorly educated, with skills confined to homemaking and child rearing, which limit their ability to earn a living in a modern world. And most have no assets, given that the FLDS women don't usually make decisions. Most land and financial resources are owned and distributed by "priesthood leaders" under the direction of Warren Jeffs, who is in prison for acting as an accomplice to the marriage/rape of Elissa Wall who was fourteen years old at the time. Of the women who did return, what was their motivation, since now is a good time to escape given that the eyes of the world are on the FLDS community? How will their lives be different now that their secretive world has been laid open? Perhaps together we can find some answers to these questions.
Dorothy Allred Solomon is the 28th of 48 children born to polygamist leader Dr. Rulon C. Allred and his fourth wife. She is the author of several books about her upbringing, including In My Father's House(Franklin Watts, 1984) and Daughter of the Saints (W.W. Norton, 2004), the latter winning the WILLA award for memoir. The paperback version of her latest book, The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women (Palgrave,2007) will hit bookstore shelves in October.